The majority of farmers will no longer need to submit registrations of interest for the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) and will be able to apply directly online, Defra has confirmed.
Meanwhile, the first farmers to sign up for the scheme have this week received their first payment.
The early payments, worth 25% of the annual value of farmers’ agreements, have been made a month after the start of applications.
Every farmer whose agreement started on 1 October 2023 has received the payment, Defra says, helping to improve cashflow and make sure SFI works for their farm business.
The SFI pays farmers in England to take actions that support food production, farm profitability and resilience, whilst protecting and enhancing the environment.
There have been over 14,000 registrations of interest and almost 1,000 applications submitted since the scheme started accepting applications.
From the end of this week, the majority of farmers will no longer need to submit registrations of interest and will be able to apply directly online, simplifying the application process. Those farming on commons should continue to express their interest with the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) who can support them to get ready to apply.
Country Land and Business Association President Mark Tufnell said:
“We are working robustly but collaboratively with Defra to make sure the schemes support all farm types and sizes – and we encourage farmers and land managers to seriously consider entering into them.
“We will continue to be proactive in pursuit of schemes that work for farm businesses, our national food security, the environment and our cherished wildlife.”
The CLA is keen to hear of members' experiences of applying for SFI. How have you found the process? Do you have any advice for others? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org